We conducted a case-control study in Yangon, Myanmar. Residents of Yangon between the ages of 6 years and 24 years who were listed in the National Leprosy Registry as being on active treatment for leprosy between December 1992 and April 1993 were eligible to participate in the study as cases. Control subjects were matched to the cases on age, sex, and neighbourhood.
These data suggest that BCG reduces the risk of leprosy in Myanmar, and that BCG vaccination of infants, along with early case-finding and treatment, should be considered an important part of the leprosy intervention strategy.
One or more doses of BCG were associated with a VE of 66%. The results show a significant trend of increasing VE with increasing number of BCG doses (one dose, VE = 55%; two doses, VE = 68%; three doses, VE = 87%). One dose of BCG vaccine appeared to provide protection substantially higher than that found in an earlier vaccine trial in Myanmar, but consistent with results from case-control studies in other countries.
Five randomized trials, a follow-up study, and six case-control investigations of BCG vaccine's effectiveness (VE) for preventing leprosy have been conducted internationally, with widely varying estimates of VE. Because of the difficulty of generalizing from disparate results, local estimates of VE are needed for health planning purposes and are currently particularly relevant, given the World Health Organization's (WHO) goal to eliminate leprosy by the year 2000.